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Italian Grilled Cheese & Tomato Fennel Soup
Italian Grilled Cheese Directions:
To make pesto, place basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing until a paste forms. Remove from processor, place in a bowl stir in cheese. Place in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use (it will last for 1 week in the fridge or in the freezer for 3 months).
Brush outside of bread with melted butter. Brush inside of bread with pesto. Place 1 slice of cheese on each side and top with sun-dried tomatoes. Put the pieces of bread together like a sandwich and grill on griddle 2-3 mins each side until golden brown and the cheese is nicely melted.
Fennel Soup Directions:
Preheat oven to 450.
Slice Roma tomatoes in half and place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Quarter fennel bulbs and peel garlic, and also place on sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top, along with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Toss well on pan, and roast for 20-25 minutes.
Place 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large soup pot. Sautee onion, carrot and celery, cover and let cook until tender and fragrant. Add roasted vegetables and all their juice. Add 2 cups of stock, thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.
Fish out bay leaf and thyme with a slotted spot. Puree in blender, in batches, until smooth. Pour back into pot, season with salt and pepper. If soup is too thick, add more vegetable stock. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh thyme.